Look a Little Closer. What Do You See?
After witnessing the explosive events of Charlottesville, VA I just wanted to share a thought with those of you who care to read it all the way through.
I can remember the intensity with which so many displayed intolerance towards Muslims last fall and even the beginning of this year because they could all be "terrorists." Supporting bans against those who might do the citizens of this great country harm. Supporting a wall to keep all the "rapists and drug dealers" out because they threaten the "American" way of life.
I can't help but wonder what those who supported those initiatives are thinking tonight. Do they see people like James Fields and the band of fired up Caucasian males with guns, torches, lead pipes, and body armor as terrorists? Do they dismiss them as "idiots." Do they simply label them as "ignorant" and move on with their day?
Wearing battle gear, and armed with weapons, these men did not come together to peacefully protest. They did not walk in front of the cameras and simply take a knee. They did not wear t-shirts with "I can't breathe" in silent protest as they walked about. They came with the intent to attack, intimidate, and impose terror on the people of Charlottesville who were making an effort to unite a community, in light of a shameful past.
It seems strange that a country that "united" many years ago to destroy Nazis would be so dismissive when they surface in our own back yards. Passing them off as "jerks" or "idiots" today.
This rekindles a fear that those who have never lived as a minority in this country will never know nor completely understand.
This is a fear for minorities that has been present long before the days when my grandmother was forced to watch a fellow minority lynched, tarred, and feathered and continues to exists to this very day where children are threatened at schools for being minorities because "President Trump is in charge."
A president who has refused to utilize the very language that Virginia Governor, Terry McAuliffe, used to describe those who participated in and initiated today's violent acts. "Nazis," "Racists," "Bigots," and "White Nationalists." And he certainly didn't blame "many sides" for what transpired.
Governor McAuliffe said that "Nazis," "Racists," "Bigots," and "White Nationalists" had no place in Virginia and even went as far as to say they had "no place in America." To have such words come from this Governor, in a state which has had such an extensive history with the mistreatment of minorities, speaks to me of a chance for that community. A chance at utilizing a tragic event where a life was lost and so many were injured as a platform for more than just discussions. We already know the topics. We already know the obstacles.
It is time to lean in. It is time to put sympathy aside and employ empathy in our dealings with people who are different from us. Who may not share our common values or views, but deserve respect and a chance to live a life with dignity.
You have to make the most of every opportunity to stifle intolerance while understanding that those standing in your way are not "ignorant." They don't solely fit the stereotype that we see thrown out each time a race related issue flairs up. Take a look at those pictures from Virginia above, again.
You won't see teeth missing, skinheads, mullets, overalls, or cowboy hats as the long standing stereotypes would lead you to believe. You will see domestic terrorists wearing polos, khakis, long sleeve shirts, and pullovers with faux hawks, tapered cuts, crew cuts, and bangs. No racism does not equal ignorant. Nor does it equal "good ol' boys from the south."
Racism equals an irrational prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one's own race is superior. It also equals the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
It bears no type. Nor does racism limit itself to certain state borders.
We cannot wait for political leaders to step up and step in. It takes you impacting your home, and reaching out across color and cultural lines into your community, and investing your time, talents, or treasure in communities that are beyond your front door.
If you want to see progression you have to go beyond an insightful, prayerful, or positive social media posts or a clever bumper stickers. You have to be the change you want to see in the world.
You can't simply pray peace into existence. You must work for it.